For one thing, Mindy and I like naps. But Reese has always napped only when there are no options for escape and her flesh finally fails her. Reese is so busy. Always has been.
When Reese was a baby, sometimes I would go into her room after she had succumbed to a nap. She’d be on top of her blankets with her backside in the air and her arms spread in haphazard fashion. Obviously she had wiggled out of her covers, sat up, and been busy until she collapsed and fell forward.
Even at six years of age the same thing still happens. We just get to add arguments with her in English about whether she should rest or not.
Reese doesn’t like to slow down. But we know she needs to. And that’s because she was designed to do so. Not by us, but by God. We know this. If she didn’t rest, life would become unhealthy and ultimately untenable. It is critical to her biology, psychology, and spirituality.
This is not particular to children. We know this, even though we so often work to deny it. We were all made to rest as surely as we were made to work. In the beginning of the book of Genesis days are counted like this: there was evening and there was morning, the first day. The day began when the people were at rest. And still the earth turned. We are not God, after all.
Also, a day of rest was perhaps the chief identity marker for God’s people Israel. To keep this day of rest and enjoyment, this Sabbath, was a way of affirming that people were not slaves but were made in the image of God.
I recall a cover article from US News and World Report from a number of years back. It considered the culture-wide American binge on caffeine.
Apparently in just the first few years of the previous decade the percentage of 18-24 year olds who drink coffee doubled from 16 to 31 percent. Energy drinks like Red Bull were suddenly a multi-billion dollar business. Beer (beer?!?!) was coming in caffeinated forms. Poison control centers were reporting growing numbers of caffeine overdose calls.
The article said that doctors were becoming concerned. Not that caffeine is an evil substance. In adults it seems to have a role in reducing the risk of Parkinson’s, a number of types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and migraine headaches.
However, there were no studies on what it does to the growing legion of young bodies and brains it was entering in larger and larger amounts. And for anyone of any age, being strung out on something probably is probably not a good thing.
Keeping life rolling quickly may end up killing us slowly.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Psalm 46 has that famous line in verse 10: “Be still, and know that I am God!” I think in the context there are two ways to take the line. One is of the “don’t worry” variety. Verses 1 and 2 do say after all, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
The other way of taking verse 10 we might call the “knock it off and shut the heck up” approach. I think it’s the reason the English translation ends verse 10 with an exclamation point. The Lord says in the Psalm, “Be still and know that I am God (because you aren’t)!”
Sometimes we rest from our labors and worries because we need not fear the pressures of life. God is with us. The first reading of verse 10.
Sometimes we rest because we need to remember that the role of God has already been cast, and we didn’t get the part. The second reading of verse 10.
Either way we need to rest as surely as we need to work. And we need to support each other in this pursuit because, sadly, it is a counter-cultural practice in a go-go-go-or-die America.
Work, play, and rest well, folks.